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Containerization, one of the technology advancements fostered by cloud technologies, helps accelerate code development, testing, and deployment. Write code once and port it among operating systems. Containers have lower operating costs as they utilize compute resources more efficiently than legacy monolithic applications. Containers are also vital for application development in AWS environments, and AWS provides container services and tools in support of efficient application deployment on AWS. Any business striving to obtain maximum benefit from their cloud investment should be exploring the capabilities and benefits of containerization.

Container Orchestration with ECS

Amazon developed Elastic Container Service (ECS) to manage the container orchestration process—selecting images from a container repository, identifying the resources required to run the containers, launching the containers, and scaling and managing a cluster of virtual machines, or scheduling containers on those virtual machines.

Container Launch Types: EC2 and Fargate

When launching containers, AWS customers using ECS for container orchestration have two options—launching containers on Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) or launching containers on Fargate. Each method has its strengths, though in comparing the two launch types, many customers may be drawn to AWS Fargate’s advantages.

EC2 Launch Provides Granular Control 

The EC2 launch type provides greater control of server clusters and granular control over the infrastructure running container applications. However, this level of control requires more involvement on the part of sysadmins or DevOps engineers to configure and maintain the runtime infrastructure. This includes the selection of the operating system, access controls, security policies, software patching, and infrastructure maintenance. Additionally, EC2 launch type allows for selecting spot instances, which can greatly reduce cost- leveraging reserved instances is also a very effective cost saving measure, but is often hard with a dynamic container environment- Mission’s Reserved Instance Optimization (RIO) program can help acchieve a xx% utilization rate! These activities can be particularly resource-intensive when it comes to running applications that must comply with standards such as SOC 2. 

Scaling EC2 instances also requires extra consideration. DevOps need to configure the instance cluster nodes that run the containers, specifying their autoscaling parameters, as well as the container autoscaling parameters. The level of control and customization that the EC2 launch type provides can be ideal for support of applications that require fine-tuning of the infrastructure to meet compliance or government requirements. However, the configuration and management overhead required to launch EC2 instances can be challenging, especially for businesses new to AWS and container technology or those with limited sysadmin or DevOps resources.

AWS Fargate Advantages

Launching containers on EC2 instances provides granular control of infrastructure and scaling. Amazon responded to the demand for an easier method to launch containers with the release of Fargate. The salient AWS Fargate advantage is the ability to run containers without the overhead of managing servers or clusters. Fargate abstracts the underlying infrastructure, allowing businesses to focus on container development, while Fargate automatically manages the infrastructure to run them. With Fargate, developers create the containers, specify their memory and CPU requirements, and define the access policies. Containers can be launched in seconds simply by uploading the container image and specified resource requirements. With comparative ease of launching containers, AWS Fargate’s advantages appeal to businesses that are:

  • Just getting started with container technology and currently lack adequate sysadmin resources or skills needed to configure and manage EC2 instance infrastructures.

  • Running applications not bound by industry or government regulations that require customization or granular control of infrastructure to comply with these requirements.

  • Having difficulty autoscaling ECS instances, resulting in unused memory or CPU resources, and higher compute costs.  

  • Looking for additional ways to lower compute costs. (By running tasks, you pay for resources defined in the tasks and pay only when a task is running.)

  • Needing to run tasks on-demand or on-schedule and therefore don’t require a dedicated EC2 instance.

Whether you are just beginning to evaluate the benefits of a container approach to code development and deployment, or are an established AWS customer looking for greater efficiency in launching and managing containers, AWS Fargate’s advantages may help you realize the operational and economic benefits of containers sooner.

ECS or Fargate? Get Expert Help

An AWS Premier Consulting Partner like Mission has extensive experience helping customers fully understand the capabilities and benefits of the various AWS container services and tools. 

They will invest the time to learn about your unique business goals, evaluate your current AWS environment, and help you determine where and how AWS Fargate might be the ideal method for launching containers.

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As an AWS Premier Consulting Partner, Mission's will invest the time to understand your current development and deployment methods (CI/CD) and guide you in the optimum use of container technologies. Contact us today.

About the author:
author
Jake Malmad

Senior DevOps Consultant



Jake Malmad is a Senior DevOps consultant at Mission and has over 14 years of experience specializing in cloud architecture.


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